Industrial waste includes any material that is rendered useless during a manufacturing process such as that of factories, mills, and mining operations. Some examples of industrial waste are chemical solvents, paints, sandpaper, paper products, industrial by-products, metals, and radioactive wastes. The proper management of industrial waste is of huge importance to the environment as it poses a significant risk to sensitive water resources. When industrial wastes, such as petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, surfactants, toxins and/or salts are released into the environment, all threaten to pollute receiving waters rendering them unsuitable as a water supply.
Most importantly, the waste can pose a threat to aquatic life, as excessive nutrients can lead to algal blooms, oxygen deficits and increase colour and turbidity.
Sewage treatment plants can treat some industrial wastes, for example, those consisting of conventional pollutants such as biochemical oxygen demand. Industrial wastes containing toxic pollutants require specialized treatment systems.